It’s rare in football for a team of immensely talented individuals to come together and work in such perfect synchronisation, and when they do they are remembered as the greatest to have ever played the game.
In Pep Guardiola’s time at Barcelona, he was fortunate to oversee one of those groups who, in no small part thanks to him, conquered the world.
“The two times we won the Champions League it was with seven players from the youth team, players like Xavi, [Andres] Iniesta and [Victor] Valdes,” he said in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“They all arrived at the club aged seven or eight and became stars.
“The club had confidence in me, I came through the underage categories and we had the money to buy great players.
“We also had the best player in the world.”
Guardiola’s Barcelona won two Champions Leagues, two Club World Cups, two European Super Cups, three LaLiga Santanders, two Copa del Reys and three Spanish Super Cups.
“These things happen once in a lifetime,” he added.
“It makes me nostalgic to see those pictures of me there and the joy we had.
“In 20 years if we are still reading our story the it will be a great thing.
“It will be something that we left behind.”
The Catalan explained the importance of Messi, arguably the greatest to ever play football and someone who he describes as ‘a competitive and fierce animal who hates losing.’
“If the team helps him in the big games then he makes the difference,” Pep noted.
“He and Cristiano Ronaldo have been scoring 50 goals a year for 10 years – it’s incredible.”
The sweetest conquest
Now at Manchester City, Guardiola admits to not knowing how far his side can go in Europe this season.
“Our best success as a club was to reach the semifinal in 2016,” he opined.
“I don’t know if we’re prepared and we don’t have the history behind us to say if we are up to the mark.”
Looking ahead to the future, the tactician didn’t rule out the possibility of coaching in Italy someday, claiming that a few years ago he didn’t expect to ever coach Bayern Munich, which he did from 2013.
He did however stress his comfort in Manchester and that he is enjoying the English football culture.